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Deconversion stories

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Contents

Deconversions and conversations about abandoning faith

Individual stories

After revealing to my wife I am atheist/agnostic she told my old pastor. He asked why. This is my response

I did believe in Jesus and took my Christianity very seriously. I don't think the ferverence that I had for God could be faked. However, hindsight being what it is, I look back on my Christian faith as something that feels almost faked. As if I were trying so hard to achieve something that was never there. I threw myself into community, into the word, into prayer. All these things feel as if they were done in vain. I never truly felt the presence of God. I tried, I tried ever so hard but it never seemed to come. That personal relationship with God? Not there. The things that kept me pursuing God were quite a few:

  1. My wife believed and required my belief to be with her
  2. I had great friends that all believed, and believed in an accessible way to me. (Not condemning homosexuality, understanding sin as I felt Jesus portrayed it with forgiveness, a healing heart and listening ears)
  3. I used the times of confrontation with my belief to learn more about what I felt God was leading me to.

These things, though, couldn't overcome what had been there before I truly searched for God. That is, my doubt and logical problems with an Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient God and Jesus.

Things started to fall apart with my faith in a very real way when we lost that Christian community that held my beliefs up. The fallout with our friends and our inability to find a church where we really belonged allowed the doubts in my mind speak more clearly. As I said, the great friends in God were what helped blind me to my doubts.

Some things that led to my questioning:

A. In a men's group one day, one of the men said "I sometimes have a hard time believing God is behind something. Like, I know I am supposed to thank God for everything, but how do I know it was direct intercession by God that made that thing happen?" To which I had a prompt reply, "If you attribute the great things in your life to God, he will continue to bless your life. We can easily dismiss things as coincidences or happenstance, but if we take them as from God, you can see more clearly that it is God providing it in the first place."

This is something that seemed right at the time, but nagged at me for the weeks following. It is something I encountered a lot in my Christianity, and that is providence by attribution and circular reasoning thereof. It's the whole "The Bible is truth because God wrote it. How do we know God wrote the Bible? The Bible says so." While the Bible provides a wealth of spiritual guidance and much of it can be uplifting to the human existence, the circular reasoning of it's divine origins posits a problem. The same thing happened in my mind about the "How do we know God did this directly?" question.

B. I began listening to worship music all the time. If I would listen to anything else, I would feel dirty. I would wake up with worship songs on my mind and on my lips. I felt that this was a sign from God that I was on the right track. Though, I started to question it as I listened to solely worship music. I began to consider the human condition and how I felt. Is this a physiological reaction? I apply a meaning to the music, therefore the music means something. The highs that it would cause are very much like the highs that many people in tribes gain from their music and/or rituals. Once I stepped back from it, I began to see it as a sort of brainwashing tactic. Not purposeful of course, but it showed me that it meant more to me as I made it mean more to me and it became more important to me.

C. I started to have issues with the God-Men arguments being presented. I would often scoff at Mithra and Krishna and Horus arguments. Most atheists seemed to push them as direct corollaries when they definitely aren't. But they are close enough. Much of my faith in Jesus blossomed from the uniqueness of his story. It isn't that unique. A God dying for his believers safety - Jesus is far from the first. Jesus' time in exhile before his ministry began is a large question as well, with what religious or spiritual training he may have received. This of course, brings up some other important spiritual questions:

  • If Jesus was both God and Man, was his sacrifice truly a sacrifice? http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-11708-Philadelphia-Reason--Religion-Examiner~y2009m6d17-Was-the-crucifixion-of-Jesus-a-sacrifice "Did Jesus know he was God (as well as human)? If he did know he was god, then did he have all of the knowledge of god? If he did, then he knew that he would die on the cross--incarnated knowing so, in fact--and did nothing to stop it. He knew he couldn't actually die, and that the crucifixion would be only symbolic, so how was it a sacrifice? This seems no different than me playing some online game and sacrificing my character in order to allow the rest of the team win the mission."
  • If God is both Omnipotent and Omniscient then can he truly be all-loving as we believe? I've read books after books on this. In the end they all say "It is God's and he does as he will and we can't fully understand since we don't have God's perspective." This feels like quite a cop out argument. As Dawkins says in The God Delusion: "Incidentally, it has not escaped the notice of logicians that omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can't change his mind about his intervention, which means he is notomnipotent." While not bullet proof, there is some contradiction here.
  • Even if we can accept these 2 other minor logical problems, there is the problem with those of faith differentiating on so many core issues, as well as the change of the Christian faith throughout time seems to follow social changes. One thing that incited a great RAGE in my heart was the Westboro Baptist Church. While claiming God's divinity through Jesus Christ, they all the while slandered and threw hate at anyone who did not share their beliefs. Strong evangelists and conservative baptists would call the Vineyard coalition "Christianity Lite" and even venture that those at the Vineyard would not go to heaven because of their beliefs. Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses all take the sacrifice of Jesus as part of their teachings, but it is quite apparent that many churches believe that many others just have it wrong. In the Vineyard we believed that as long as you held strong to the faith of Jesus' sacrifice, that is all that was required. Any other beliefs were left to the grays. This is a difficult proposition when we see the grand strokes of Black & White painted in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Things like the uncleanliness of a girl child to her mother being twice that of a boy child (Leviticus 12:1-5) or what about Deuteronomy 22:23-27. Even if we accept a new covenant, we must accept that God has a certain view of right and wrong, even if all the wrong things we do are covered with the blood of Jesus. God must have a view on right and wrong (Absolute truth right?) even if we are shielded from such things.
  • There are also some fundamental logical issues with "chosen" people. Afterall, we are to believe God chose his followers before time began. Then we are to have free will to chose or not chose God through Jesus. How can it be free will if he has already chosen us? Ok, so God is omniscient, so he would pre-know we would chose him, so he chose us. Wait, does that mean he even chose us?

D. Many atheists I know have a saying, something along the lines of "I have no problem with Jesus, it's his fan club that I don't like". This is what finally broke me. The thing that put me over the edge. All my doubts were nothing in comparison with the murder of Dr Tiller. How many Christians reacted to this was "Thank God he killed that man!" I can show you some great quotes from twitter or blogs, or even TV SHOWS that said that it was about time (Thanks Fox news). This is along the same lines of the Westboro Baptist Church from point C.3. How can those who proclaim the name of Jesus do so many horrible things. I used to think I could have the same belief as these people, yet stand apart on my philosophies. HOW can God allow so many greivious things from people that could possibly be saved through their faith in Jesus? I mean, a couple was baked to a crisp in Acts when they said they gave everything to the church but kept some. How could God allow these things be done in his name?

Really, there are so many reasons I have come to this decision. I can't really get into every single detail at the moment, but these are a start. This comes down to the concept of "Beyond a reasonable doubt." - I have lots of reasonable doubt cast upon the diety of God and Jesus.[1]

References

  1. . Source: Reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/8uyfn/after_revealing_to_my_wife_i_am_atheistagnostic/

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